Oh, you beg to differ, but its true. One cannot genuinely loathe the mellow South African and his eponymous, Grammy-winning light-rock foursome, The Dave Matthews Band, any more than one can genuinely loathe scented bath oil. Or tai chi. Or stained-glass window panels.
Still not convinced? Think of Crash Into Me and try to find hate in your heart. Go!
What you mistake for hate is actually the same, low-intensity soul-panic that you might experience while watching a Ron Howard movie, or ordering from a Cheesecake Factory menu. Theres nothing explicitly horrible in there; indeed, some of it actually borders on good, but the overall product leaves you feeling a little dead inside.
Still, you want to hate. I get that. So here are five legitimate rationales for intense Matthews non-like that you can cite with friends, aside from the passé theyre a jam band or the rigidly doctrinal their music sucks.
RATIONALE #1: THE CULT FACTOR
Remember the first time you told a hardcore DMB enthusiast that you find the groups adult-contemporary sound kind of retarded? I do. She was a friend of mine, and it was an incredibly vivid experience, mostly for the swift, colorful storm of emotions that immediately followed. First came a look of supreme alarm, like: Oh my God! You dont like Matthews! It cant be! Then came the confusion: But Matthews is awesome. And were friends! It doesnt compute. Next, the indignation: Hating Matthews is like hating a sunset. You dont know shit. And, finally, the pity: I feel sad for you.
Essentially, it was like telling a Christian family member that you dont believe in Jesus. And therein lies the most insidious aspect of DMBs appeal: Fans of the band dont seem to understand how the rest of us could possibly not worship them. Its distinctly cultish, and it makes me wonder if one day well find all 10 million DMB fans lined up on a farm near Charlottesville, VA, dead from poisoned carrot juice, with Crush playing over the compounds P.A. system. Creepily plausible, huh?
RATIONALE #2: THEY SUFFFER BY ASSOCIATION
DMB came to prominence in the mid-90s, right around the same time as Hootie and the Blowfish, Counting Crows and Alanis Morisette (who started her career singing back-up for Matthews). Lets be honest: It was a black, disgusting nadir for American pop music, and though Matthews is in no way as loathsome as the three aforementioned acts, he may have helped them find purchase on Americas collective musical psyche. And thats the devils work, I say.
RATIONALE #3: THEYRE IRONY KILLERS
I dont like Phil Collins, but I think I could have fun at one of his concerts. Id remember his work on Miami Vice, think of Christian Bales riotous pre-coital critique of No Jacket Required in American Psycho (Dont just stare at it eat it!), have a few beers and, you know, enjoy myself. Ironically.
That couldnt really happen at a Matthews concert. After all, this is a multi-ethic band led by a politically-contrite white South African who sings about inclusiveness and tolerance and stuff. Theyre just not fun to hate. Honestly, I think I could have more fun watching a bunch of pretentious ass-clowns like Creed.
RATIONALE #4: THEYRE NOT SEXY
By all accounts, DMB is a technically-gifted group of session musicians. Youve got Carter Beaufords expansive drumming, Stefan Lessars jazzy yet obedient bass, and the sometimes-catchy guitar licks and horny-cat wailing of Matthews himself. In terms of overall professionalism and sound compression, the band is reminiscent of 70s studio greats Steely Dan. What DMB lacks is the Dans leavening fiendishness; that artful disconnect between form and content that gave a skinny Scarsdale Jew and his hippie, near-sighted sidekick their wildly improbable sex appeal. DMB has no such disconnect. No secrets. No sex.
RATIONALE #5: THEY HAVE A FULL-TIME VIOLIN PLAYER
Are we doing a cover of Kashmir? No? Then lose the freakin violin.
Wed., May 6, 7 p.m., 2009